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'Can you imagine what love can do for boys’ self-esteem?'

FAITHFUL AND COMMITTED: Clarence Jackson with a copy of his book

BORN IN Portland, Jamaica, Clarence Jackson always dreamed of making a trip to England – a place he had heard was flowing with milk and honey.

And in the summer of 2002, that dream would come true.

Aged 17, Clarence was set to embark upon a new life in England as a student, but immigration officials were determined to block his travel – the first of many trials he recounts in his debut book, The Journey from Yard to Broad: Stories of Trial and Triumph.

Coming to his rescue was one of Clarence’s sisters, who fought for him in a way he had never seen before.

His perception of his sister changed, as she challenged him to be strong.

It was this ‘tough love’ approach, as he saw it, which would ultimately stand him in good stead once he arrived in England. Clarence had believed everything would be ‘cook and curry’ and easy like Sunday morning. He later learned that his ability to adapt was crucial if he was to make it.

“My first impression when I looked at the homes was that they were so small,” Clarence told L&S, laughing.

“You hardly see your neighbours, it was OK to call teachers by their first name, greetings of ‘hello’ and ‘good day’ – so common in Jamaica – were frowned upon and looked on as strange, and being misunderstood was part of the welcome pack,” he said.

“It was a culture clash but I was determined to make the best of it.”

Determination in those early days was what Clarence, 35, needed as he would encounter various trials that would test his resolve and character.

“The book is about purpose and the process God used to equip me with the tools needed to triumph,” he said. “Purpose is not chance, but God ordained paths along which we must travel, at the end of which success awaits. Opportunities are provided to build our faith and character, and success awaits us if we are faithful and committed.”

POETIC: Clarence at a spoken word event

Clarence would later go on to complete a BA Applied Social Science Community Development and Youth Work degree at Goldsmiths University of London and a post-graduate diploma in mental health at Middlesex University which would prepare him for the work he currently does in the area.

“I created my own programme called The Purposition Project, which aims to raise the career and life aspirations of young people and awaken purpose through mentoring and inspirational workshops. It’s about changing the paradigm that creates obstruction to our social, educational and spiritual advance,” Clarence said.

“Through the project, I let young people know that they are important and that there is a purpose for their life which they need to realise and fulfil.”

Clarence uses the experiences he had growing up as a youth in Jamaica and then in London to inspire and motivate young people to make right choices while also encouraging them to be the best that they can be.

“There are numerous issues facing our young people today and the blame game will continue if we are not willing to take responsibility for our actions or inactions,” he said.

“There are many who can step in and make a real, positive difference in the lives of these young people.

“We all have a role to play in bringing healing to the traumatic experiences many of these young people face and create a platform for them to rise to their full potential, thereby making a positive contribution to their community and society.”

As a Men’s Ministries leader in his local church, Clarence also feels that many of the young boys caught up in the system need that positive male role model to love, encourage, inspire empower and listen to them in the pursuit of purposeful living.

He asked: “Can you imagine what a loving and empowering environment can do for the wellbeing and self-esteem of our black boys?”

Clarence feels that it is important to use all the God-given talents and abilities at one’s disposal to bring change to broken hearts and lives, thereby bringing honour and glory to God.

“I grew tired of the dysfunctional norms that plagued our communities,” he said.

“It became a heavy burden on my heart and I could not rest until I did something about it. I grew tired of seeing and hearing about knife and gun crime, incarceration, drugs, brokenness, fatherlessness, joblessness, exclusion, toxic environments, chaotic family circumstances, mental health, gang violence and negative stereotyping and peer pressure.”

He added: “Over the past 10 years while working with young people in different spheres – i.e. youth clubs, religious institutions, placements, prisons, mentoring – I have discovered that young people need love, positive role models, leadership and something greater than themselves to aspire to; something that will channel their energies and awaken the gifts, talents and seeds of greatness planted within them.

“They need hope and a community that believes in them and consistently encourages and challenges them to be the best version of themselves. They need a push from the past and a pull from the future. They need purpose and positioning.”

Clarence, also known as ‘the poetic preacher’ and ‘CJ The Purposition Man’, is determined to bring light and hope to those in darkness and without hope, and with the release of his debut book, which shares his own stories of trials and triumphs, if he has his way, he will not stop until every young person in London knows how precious and valuable they are to us all on planet Earth. This book will teach you to pray earnestly, trust completely, live expectantly and rise continually amid trial. If you’re looking for a book that speaks of perseverance, grit and determination, then this is it.

Clarence Jackson can be contacted on Instagram at @clarencepjackson or @yardtobroad, or via email on clarencejackson2000@ His next book launch will take place on November 16, and The Journey from Yard to Broad: Stories of Trial and Triumph is available now on Amazon.

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